感动

前几天跟太太说我明年三月想去菲律宾一趟。

太太说不可以。我也不想得寸进尺。我就说“哦”。

太太过后就说我不如去尼泊尔。两年前错过了机会。这次不如利用这次的机会去了了我的心愿。

我听了很感动。但我已经知道去尼泊尔是不可能了。因为花费需要至少两千块。我很不舍得花这些钱。我宁愿用这些钱带家人一起出国。

谢谢你太太。

我这一生中做错了很多事。但选择和你在一起是我唯一做对的事。

Indonesia – Bandung – 1st June ~ 5th June 2016

We are like headless goose for this trip. We have done very little research on Bandung except on “how to take a taxi from airport to hotel and we even get this wrong.

Months before the trip, AirAsia has made several changes to our flight. Our flight has been moved from afternoon to early morning. In the end we lost a day in Bandung.

1st June

Check-in with AirAsia is pretty fast but it is a little chaotic as we need to go to the kiosk to check in and print our baggage tag first. We then have to queue up for the staff to tag our luggage for check in and verify our boarding pass. Seems a bit confusing.

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The flight leave on time and during the initial flight, we met with some turbulence and I was a little scared actually. We can feel the airplane sudden drop and rise in altitude.

AirAsia do sell sim cards in the flight and it cost IDR110K. I would suggest you to get one as I later found out that the airport do not have any official telco kiosk that sell SIM cards.

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There are touts though that quietly try to sell you SIM cards. I did not enquire the price but they are not pushy.

We reach Husein Sastranegara International Airport on time and we have to walk a distance to the arrival hall.

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There is only one luggage carousel and we have to wait a while for the luggage to arrive. However having said that, the airport is rather basic and I wonder does the baggage handler have a motorised vehicle to transport the bags from the airplane to the carousel or they have to push a big trolley.

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After picking up our bags, we went out of the terminal and what we saw is like chaos.

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We saw a group of blue taxis at the opposite of the terminal but they don’t like bluebird taxi. We approach them and they quoted us IDR100K. I remembered that the fare should be around IDR50k to IDR60K. We try to bargain down to IDR80K but the drivers refused to budge.

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In the end we agree to IDR100K. The traffic in Bandung is not as bad as I have imagine. We reach our hotel in 20mins.

Ivory hotel is located in a quiet road and there are some food outlet nearby. There is a café and Japanese restaurant just beside the hotel.

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Check-in is pretty smooth but a little slow as it is only handled by one person. The poor staff has to prepare all our breakfast voucher, key and also to check with the housekeeping is our room ready.

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We book a family room and it is spacious though the toilet is a little small. The room is clean and the water pressure is good. Hot water from the shower is consistent. One little thought from them is that one of the power wall plus is actually a multi-plug. Unfortunately I have forgotten to take a picture of it. It is really thoughtful of them so if you do not have any travel adapter, this wall plug will save you.

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You are also given a coupon that entitle you to a 20% discount in their restaurant.

We ask the hotel to recommend a driver and vehicle to take us around Bandung. The hotel quoted us IDR1.5M which includes 12 hours of transport service anywhere in Bandung using a 10 seat van. I ask the model of the vehicle and we were told that it is a Toyota HIACE.

We then agree to it because we are getting a van and for 12 hours and thought that it is a reasonable deal.

After we settled down, we ask the front desk for recommendations for food. Lesly (the front desk staff) recommended the Humming Bird café. It is about 10 mins walk from the hotel.

The hotel has produced a simple map to show the recommended restaurants and available Factory Outlet (F.O.) within 15 mins walk from the hotel.

We then walk to Humming Bird Café and the entrance of the restaurant is very obscure.

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The restaurant is decorated according to the birds. It has an open seating which decorated like a bird cage.

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Inside the restaurants are decorated with bird-cage and birds.

The restaurant serve both Indonesian and Western meals. We of course ordered Indonesian meals.

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I remembered the Nasi Georeng that I have eaten in one of the warung in Bali. It is heavenly. So we ordered Nasi Georeng.

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The food served here is pretty good. The proficiency of English here is not that good but we can still communicate by using hand gesture and with the help of the menu.

So please speak slowly and polite to them. They are trying very hard to understand you so please be patient with them.

Along the street where Humming Bird Café is, there are actually many eating outlets and some are street side food.

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After a sumptuous meal, it is already getting dark. We then walk to the nearest F.O. which is Heritage. We actually just browse the merchandise outside Heritage but we spend more time on the F.O. beside it; Cascade.

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We spend quite a bit of time here and we spend out first Rupiah shopping here.

After all the shopping, all of us felt tired and decided to retire back to our room.

2nd June

Woke up early to have breakfast.

Breakfast is held in the hotel café; Everyjoy Café.

The selection of breakfast isn’t fantastic. The choice of food is limited. They do give you a complimentary in-house special coffee. I don’t drink coffee so I can’t comment on that.

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The taste of the food is average. Nothing to shout about. The staff is friendly and accommodating though.

I really like the decoration of the café. It is geared towards retro and even the coffee machine looks so much in the 70s.

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The wall are lined up with 70s/80s posters (though they look new!) and some vintage items.

There are also outdoor seating which is great as the weather in Banding is not hot at all.

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Our driver arrived at 0800hrs to pick us up. Our drivers name is Dicky and when we saw the van, I was actually a little disappointed. It is a KIA Pregio and the condition of the van is not that good. The van looks tired and in need of a refresh.

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Dicky asked us where we would like to go. I really wanted to visit Kawah Putih but Dicky told me that one way will need 3 hours. I was shock to hear that because I thought it is only 90mins from Bandung. My tour mates do not want to travel that far so Dicky suggested touring northern Bandung.

The first stop is called “Farmhouse”. It is a small little park with animals and also some European architecture buildings.

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The main draw of this place is actually the animals. You can pet and feed the animals. You buy food from the stalls for IDR5K per bundle to feed the rabbits, hamster and goat.

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One little tip here. Many people throw away the carrot green on the floor after feeding the rabbits. You can pick all these up and use it to feed the goats. You get free food for the goats!

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The next stop is the Pelangi waterfall. There is dual pricing here where locals can go in for IDR15K and foreigners will have to pay IDR25K for it.

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The Pelangi waterfall is about 72m tall and there are well paved steps all the way down to the falls. However the groups is not so adventurous and they are willing to settle down for just a remote view of the falls.

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We then proceed to have lunch at D’Seuhah Da Lada. It is a Sundanes restaurant.

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The have built huts in the area and you can enjoy your meal in a non-aircon environment. Remember that Bandung weather is cooling and the humidity is low. So it will be more enjoyable while in the open.

The staff here is friendly and again their English Language is quite lacking but their genuine service make up for it.

The snack shop also bring up some samples for us to try before the food is serve and though we know they are a little more expensive compared to getting them elsewhere, we still buy some from them.

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The food here is quite nice is it may be worth a visit if you are nearby.

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Our next stop is the famous Kopi Luwak Cikole.

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Again I do not drink coffee so I don’t know how to appreciate it. The impression I have is drinking coffee from the cat’s poop.

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The cats are quite cute actually can they have some cats that you can carry them. I do not know is this a good idea as we may be stressing them out instead.

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A guide describe the coffee making process which I am inattentive to. All I hear is Lawuk, coffee and poop (or something like that).

There are 2 types of coffee; one is original and the other is with Tongkat Ali and Ginseng.

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We bought one cup of each flavour and it cost us IDR11K. Very expensive coffee indeed.

Dicky ask us whether we are interested in riding horses. We said “ok!”.

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The place Dicky bought us to is actually De Ranch. The entrance fee I think is about IDR10K per person.

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Here you can ride a horse for IDR25K and ride in a horse carriage for about IDR10K per person.

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There is also other activities like flying fox and mini rock climbing (for kids).

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This place is good if you want to burn an hour or two and also a place for the kids to enjoy themselves.

Our next stop is the floating market.

Please do not have high expectation of this floating market and do not even compare it with Thailand’s floating market. They are both very different.

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The “boats” that sell the food is actually tied to a platform unlike the ones in Bangkok where the boat is travelling on the water.

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You can buy food from them but you will need to buy the coins first. Note that the coins are non-refundable so just buy the amount that you need.

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We then make a dash back to Bandung and the kids are starving. Before dinner, Dicky brought me to buy a SIM card that cost IDR5.5K that gives me 2GB of data with no SMS or talk time.

After that we just pop by in the nearest fast food restaurant. It turn out to be KFC and we paid IDR198K for a dinner for 5.

During the meal, we ask Dicky can we engage him directly instead of through the hotel. He said it is possible but he cannot pick us up at the hotel. We understand the reason behind it and we then agreed to meet at an alternate location not far away from our hotel.

The price is so much cheaper compared to the hotel but we just take it as a lesson learn.

3rd June

We meet Dicky at the agreed location and again Dicky ask us where we want to go. We said we wanted somewhere more natural and open.

Dicky then suggested Kawah Putih again but again it was shot down. We then decide to stay within Bandung city and do F.O. hopping.

I will just briefly describe the F.O. I have visited. Note that taking pictures within in F.O. is prohibited so I did not take any.

Marc & Stuart and Polo Ralph Lauren

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I was told Polo Ralph Lauren is different from Ralph Lauren in the US.

Polo Ralph Lauren is actually a local brand and Ralph Lauren US will not verify the authenticity of the Polo Ralph Lauren merchandise you have purchase.

Anyway the clothes here are not that cheap but they do offer a good variety with different qualities.

As for Marc & Stuart, they mainly sell Nike shoes and Adidas products. The price is quite reasonable and we actually bought 3 pairs of shoes.

Rumah Mode

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It is pronounced as Rama Mo-de.

I was told that this is the biggest F.O. in Bandung. It is a little more expensive here but you can see the quality is slightly better than some of the other smaller F.O.

Outside the F.O. is a café that sell pastry and food but to me it is on the higher side.

GLOW

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GLOW is a mid tier F.O. The price is easier on your wallet and it mainly cater to mid size people but we do find a bit of plus size clothes there.

Jetset

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Nothing much here and I did not remember wrongly, lots of kid’s clothes here.

Adidas Outlet

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In the F.O. here, though the shop sign may yell Nike but inside the shop, you will not be surprise that they are selling other brands merchandise too.

So this Adidas outlet also sell other brands of merchandise like Nike and Puma.

The price of the merchandise here is a little on the high side but still affordable. The variety is there too and you have many to choose from.

Riau Stock Mall

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I think this is one of the F.O. that suits us. It is really like a market and I can get a similar t-shirt for IDR79K where I have to pay IDR158K in Cascade.

If you want some bargains, this is the place to go.

We have lunch in a place called Tjendana Bistro. I think there is another name for it.

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The food here is nice and reasonable. The feel of the restaurant is a little empty and it has a courtyard behind.

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Dicky told us this is the cheaper place to eat in this area.

The Chili squid is good and the Nasi Georeng is also tasty.

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The staff is friendly and accommodating but please speak slowly to them as their English proficiency is still lacking.

As for dinner, we ask for a place with nice view and I actually requested Bukit Moko at Warung Daweung.

However Dicky says that his vehicle is not suitable to go up the slope as he view it as dangerous.

He then suggested Stone café which we agreed.

As Stone café is located at higher elevation, the weather is very cooling.

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Food is decent and the price is a little steep though.

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Before we are drop off, we request to buy some local Bandung snacks and we are brought to Kartika Sari.

This seems to be a popular place for local snacks and everything seems to sell like hotcakes.

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After that Dicky drop us off a place near our hotel and we call it a day.

4th June

A relaxing day for us with no plans in mind.

We ask our hotel to book 2 blue bird taxis for us. The metered taxis arrives on time and we request them to go to Trans Studio Mall.

The ride is smooth with light traffic. I can see that there is a minimum payment of IDR35K for the ride. This means that even if your ride is below IDR35K, you still have to pay the minimum amount.

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When we reach our destination, the driver told us that we have to top up another IDR3K. As he does not speak English, I assume that it is the booking fee.

I believe Trans Studio Mall is the biggest mall in Bandung. At the least this is what Dicky told us.

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There is a large amusement park inside. The entrance to the park is IDR17K on a weekday and IDR27K on a weekend.

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We just loiter around the mall and it was spacious. There are many food options and we even find the long-lost A&W.

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After lunch, we decided to catch a movie. A ticket will set us back at IDR50K which is a steal to us.

After the movie, it is already almost 1600hrs.

We decide to just visit the F.O. near to our hotel and ask the driver to bring us to Summit F.O.

While our taxi driver know the way, my friend’s driver just drop them off at Heritage. They have to cross two roads to get to Passion F.O.

Crossing the road is not a big deal but crossing the roads in Bandung needs guts and glory!

We just went to a few factory outlets around the area and we call it a day.

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On the way back, we saw the shop that sell plus size clothes are open. We do some shopping there and buy almost IDR800K of clothes. So if you are plus size and wanted to buy some simple and not fancicul clothes, you can try Arella.

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My family decide to have our dinner at Everjoy. The Nasi Georeng is not that nice actually as the rice is a little soggy.

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When we are handed our bill, the staff ask us do we have the 20% discount coupon that the hotel has given us. I said yes but it is in the room.

The kind staff told us that he can give us the 20% discount but we have to provide them with the coupon later. I was like “Wow. That is what I call customer oriented.”

5th June

We depart Bandung today.

Dicky will pick us up at 0700hrs. Dicky’s boss has negotiated with our hotel to agree to pick us up directly from the hotel. We do not need to be sneaky about this.

Last night, we request the Everyjoy café to pack some breakfast for us and they actually willing to do it. We are grateful about it.

Unfortunately Dicky cannot make it and send another driver from another company to fetch us.

As it is a Sunday morning, traffic is light and we reach the airport in 20mins.

Bandung airport is pretty small and clearing immigration is fast. Note that any mineral water bottle will have to be surrendered to the security. Only real empty water bottle will be allowed through.

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This wrap up our trip to Bandung.

Afterthoughts

I did not have any high expectation from Bandung from the start. Though I did not manage to visit Kawa Putih which is a disappointment to me but I still enjoy this trip very much.

Bandung is cleaner than I thought. I do not see trash very much on the street.

The people that I have interacted with is friendly and honest. I once given a K Circle staff extra IDR5K and he promptly return it to me.

The taxi driver brought me to Trans Studio Mall wanted to return me IDR2K of change which I politely decline.

Bandung is a nice place if you just want some simple shopping and maybe have a day trip out of the city. It may not be my favourite city but it is a good place to chill out.

When travelling in Bandung, we see many specialty or theme café which is nicely decorated.

Bandung is definitely worth a visit but please…… do not come during Indonesian holidays and you should know why.  ^__^

 

 

 

Tripadvisor Gift 2015

Tripadvisor 2015年的礼物今年特别早收到。

应该是比较有经验了吧。

几年的礼物和往年的一样好。很实用。

谢谢你,TA.!

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Goodbye Windows Phone

For almost 5 years, I have been using Windows Phone.

I remembered my first Windows Phone is a HTC HD7. I started off experimenting the OS and I like it very much. The Live Tiles and the smooth operation of the phone attracted me.

Windows_Phone_logo

During then, there is very few apps for our local content. However I felt that the OS has lots of potential. Android and iOS is quite deeply entrenched in the mobile market. Windows Phone will have a huge battle to fight.

My second Windows phone is a Nokia 920. I used to dislike Nokia but they did a good job implementing the OS into a Nokia phone.

By now, Windows Phone app for local content is still a very few. Not even a single local bank wrote an app for it. Many app only support either iOS or Android or both.

In Jan 2015, I got the Nokia 930. It is really a nice phone running Windows Phone 8.1. The design is simple and classic. The phone hardly hang or reboot itself.

However at this point, I start to lose faith in Windows Phone. Even with the Lumia 950 series and the Universal Apps, I cannot see any future with this OS.

I cannot monitor my kids school work neither can I control my AV Receiver remotely. There is no local banking app and I even doubt Microsoft will bring in the Lumia 950.

It has been rumoured that Microsoft is going to kill off the Lumia series and release the Surface Phone.

If there is a similar app in Android and iOS, the Windows Phone version is of low quality type.

I really love Windows Phone but as the saying goes; Reality is cruel.

So after much deliberation and sadness, I have finally move to Android.

Android

Thank you Windows Phone. If your app quality is as good as iOS and Android, I will be back for sure.

 

Thailand – Bangkok – 27th March ~ 30th March 2016

This trip is shopping trip………… but not for me. I am just a runner and “controlled” remotely (read – Wife’s runner, financial provider and butler).

I have been to Bangkok several times so you can read it all here.

I will not write the usual (and maybe even boring) stuff of what I did there but just write down the new things I have experience or my thoughts.

Air Asia

I took Air Asia to Bangkok and to BKK sector is fine. However the situation in the airport is a little chaotic when returning. Many passengers do not know which queue to queue.

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The lines are long and very obvious that there are many people who jump queue.

Therefore I would suggest you reach the airport at least 2.5 hours before your flight time.

Airport Bus to the fringe of the city

After you exit the custom check in T1, keep your head up and look for the sign that says Gate 6. Walk toward the gate and on your right, you will see a kiosk with the A1 bus sign. You do not need to approach the counter. Just wait at the stand there that shows the information of the A1 and A2 bus.

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I waited less than 10 mins and the bus arrive. A1 sign is clearly display on the bus so you will not miss it.

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The bus do not stop for long. It stop for about 5 mins and move on to T2.

The ride to Mo Chit is about 20 mins or less, depending on traffic. The bus will drop you off just before it reaches Mo Chit BTS station and you just walk about 5 mins to the station.

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I have forgotten to take down the exit number of Mo Chit BTS whree the bus stop but you may refer to the bus stop sign in the picture that shows how it looks like.

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The fare is THB30 and within 5 mins after I alight, another A1 bus arrive.

It may make economic sense to take the bus if there is one or two person but for three or four person, a taxi will be more economical. However Bangkok traffic is really bad and depending on what time you arrive, sometimes it may make sense even for 4 person to take a bus and then a train (if you hotel is accessible by the MRT or BTS). You may not save money but you save time.

Sukhumvit on a Sunday

It seems quiet on a Sunday. Only one side (most parts between Nana BTS and Asoke BTS) of the walkway has street vendors. This mirror my experience in Yaowarat in my previous visit where on Monday, there is very few street side vendors on Monday. Is there a roster going around on who can open stall on which day?

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I have read that the Thai government is eradicating street side vendor but doing this will lose part of its charm and character of the city. However I do understand that pedestrian need to have walking space too.

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I also see that there is also an increased in police presence and I wonder why.

Talad Rot Fai Ratchada

This is my first stop since they are only open from Thu to Sun.

To reach there, take the MRT (not BTS!) to Thailand Cultural Center MRT station. Exit from Exit 3. There will be signs to guide you in the MRT station.

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Once you exit, U-turn and walk towards the shopping mall. There are 2 ways to going there; one is to walk across the mall on level 1 or turn left on the first road you hit.

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I chose to walk across the mall and coincidentally there seems to have a small bazaar there. They even have goat feeding activity where you pay THB20 for a 10% filled milk bottle to feed the goat.

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Just follow the crowd and exit another entrance (back entrance) and you will see the entrance of the market.

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Once you hit the market, you will see rows of food stalls. It is a food heaven here.

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The other part of the market is stalls selling general merchandise.

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The border of the market are all the pubs and restaurants.

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The retro feel here is not as strong as the one near Seacon Square. However it is still a good market to go as it is more compact and the size of the market is not too daunting.

A new bridge in Ratchaprasong!

Why is this big news and why does it even matter?

Firstly, this bridge is bigger and wider than the previous one. It can accommodate more people and the human traffic flow is so much better.

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Another good news for shoppers is that they are extending the bridge to Platinum Mall area. In the past, visitors have to walk under the hot sun to Platinum Mall but once this bridge is completed, it will be sheltered all the way.

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The shoppers (you know who you are) will love it!

City Lodge Soi 9

This is my usual hotel in Bangkok when I travel solo.

I love and hate this place at the same time.

I like it because it is just beside Nana Station. It has Mcdonalds, 7-11 and street side food stalls around it.

I hate it because there is a night market just outside the hotel. The entrance of the hotel is also very obscure. The entrance of the hotel is not accessible by the taxi so you will need to walk a few steps to the taxi. It’s no big deal actually but if it rains……… you know.

During check-in, the staff looks so uninteresting. He doesn’t seems to be motivated but still does his job.

The room is clean and seems like nothing has change.

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Well, there is one. Now they uses a electronic safe instead of those retro key type. Maybe they have sold all the old safe to Talad Rot Fai.

The water pressure is alright but it can be better.

At night, this place is full of lady boys. There is so many that I think real woman is a rare species here. I once told my friend that the most beautiful woman in Sukhumvit are actually man!

Yaowarat

This place has stood the test of time. Nothing seems to have change.

The Ratchawong pier has been slightly renovated but it is the pillars that have the most makeover.

This is one of the few times that I come to Yaowarat in the afternoon and the crowd has thin out a lot. Maybe it is a better time to come in the afternoon next time but he down side is once it gets dark, the ferry will stop operating and you will either need to take a taxi out (which is tough) or walk all the way to Hua Lamphong MRT station.

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One of the best time to come to Yaowarat is near to Songkran time as they have many types of water gun on sale.

Central World

There is currently a food bazaar just outside Central World Ratchaprasong. You will be spolit for choice here and just eat all you can.

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I also noticed that there are added security for this mall. The access to this mall form the first level is very limited now as most parts are bring fenced up. You can only enter the area outside the mall from a few designated entrance. I hope this is not the new normal.

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I came, I saw and I shop. Couldn’t be happier when I see the smile on my wife’s face when I bring back all the shopping box (not only bags).

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Philippines, Visayas, Bantayan ~ 11th March – 14th March 2016

Bantayan.

This island rank one of the lowest in my to-go list. The impression I have about this island has nothing for me to look forward to.

However I need to find somewhere to go. Somewhere new. After looking at the map of Cebu, all the familiar names have been crossed out; leaving Bantayan and Camotes Island.

So I chose Bantayan Island after my friends in Dumaguete and Manila recommended it. However I am still hesitant.

Bantayan has been often compared with Malapascua. Malapascua being a dive haven, is more well-known and mentioned more especially among divers.

Cebu Pacific is like Air Asia; their favourite past time is to change flight schedules. I do not know how many emails has Cebu Pacific sent me regarding the change of flight schedule.

Day 1

The flight leaves on time and even reach Cebu 15 minutes before schedule.

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When I arrived at the immigration, I found that the layout has changed. The immigration area is brighter.

Immigration clearance is fast and even the baggage area has been renovated. It is brighter and more spacious unlike the old and dingy look.

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Now there are telco companies; SMART and Globe having kiosk in the baggage claim area.

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I bought a 5 day data plan for P300. I think it is limited to 1.5GB. They have regular SIM card only but do not worry, if you require nano SIM or micro SIM, they will just cut it for you. All is done in 5 mins.

Exiting the terminal, the taxi stand have been moved to the right side. There is a proper yellow airport taxi stand now. Even the white taxi stand is now just beside the yellow airport taxi stand.

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The queue is short and there is a constant flow of taxis. Obviously the white taxis are doing a better business than their yellow counterpart.

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There is also a bus service that will bring you to SM Mall

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I took a white taxi to the North Bus terminal. The traffic is quite bad actually and I need almost an hour to reach the terminal.

The bus terminal still collect P10 for taxi entry.

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The next bus to Hagnaya port is 0800 hrs and the fare is P132. Along the way, the bus pass by plantation and hills. It is actually an enjoyable ride. However the bus seat is very small and with big ass people like me, it can be quite squeezy if there is a passenger sitting beside me.

The bus conductor is very friendly and helpful towards all passengers.

The ride to the port is almost 4 hours.

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There are actually aircon bus but I did not see any. There are also buses that travel directly all the way into Bantayan via the RoRo.

There are two major shipping lines that serve the Bantayan-Hagnaya route; Super Shuttle Ferry and Island Shipping.

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These two shipping lines schedule complement each other. So you need not choose which ferry to take next.

The ferry fare is P170 and you will have to pay P10 terminal fee.

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There are many food options at the port and also there are actually several bus companies serving Hagnaya.

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The ride is about 90 mins and the boat hardly leave on time.

You must keep the tickets because the ticket is only collected in the boat and also just before you walk up the stairs to the seats.

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The ferry is slow travelling about 16km/hr only. If the vessel is a catamaran, you can reach Bantayan in an hour.

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The beauty of Bantayan is clearly shown when the boat approach the port. The water is so clear and beautiful.

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Upon reaching Bantayan port, many porters and trike drivers will approach you.

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I look around the water in the jetty and found that the water is very clear.

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A trike to the Santa Fe area will be P20 per person.

I walked all the way to the entrance of the port to get a trike. The ride to Anika Resort is just like 5 mins only.

Check-in is pretty fast but they will insists on you showing them the transfer slip. When booking with Anika directly, you will be ask to transfer 50% of your stay. You will need to show them the transfer slip in order to check you in.

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Also not all rooms are available for booking in 3rd party site like Agoda. For the Courtyard room, you will need to book directly with Anika.

The booking process is quite simple. You get a quote, you pay and once they receive the money, they will confirm your reservation via email.

The room is actually made out of shipping containers. I would say this will shorten the construction process by a lot but looks “cheap”. The shipping containers will then be carved out into several small rooms.

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The room is sufficient for two. Water pressure is decent and the cable TV channel is limited. The TV signal is also very erratic.

The aircon can be a little noisy and vibrate. The aircon is also weak and it need a long time to cool the small room.

One important thing to note is that there are no power points for you to charge your gadgets. The only 2 power points have already been used by the TV and also the decoder. So you had better bring a multi-plug.

I then walk to the beach and was very impressed by the beach around Anika.

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It is very beautiful. The sea is so blue and as a matter of fact, has a different hue of blue.

It is obvious that the resort did maintain the beach front of the resort. There are very little trash and seaweeds on the beach.

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I also walk around the resort and the resort is actually compact. There are toilets even outside the rooms and there is a wash area for the sand on your foot before you enter your room.

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There is a small playground for the kids.

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The sun deck chairs are of better quality compared to the neighbouring resorts.

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The surrounding of the resort is very pleasant.

I walk out of Anika resort beach further north.

There are some kids flying their kite and also saw 2 little girls sorting out the fish net used by one of the girls’ father. I took some picture of them are they are smiling all the way.

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I chatted with them and found that their name is Angela and Baby. They are both 11 years old. They are preparing the fish net for tomorrow’s use and the net and boat belongs to Angela’s father.

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After some chatting, Angela asked me with her little English whether do I want to do island hopping the next day. I told them I am interested and I asked her how much. “P800” is her answer. She further add the island entrance fee is P500. Her English is a little incomprehensible and is aided by Baby.

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She then run back home happily and bring her father out. I requested to set off tomorrow 0700 hrs to Virgin island. I also told him that the price is P800 and he seems to hesitate but agreed.

I then bid them farewell and take a rest in the room.

In the evening where there is still light, I just lie down on the sun deck and enjoy the cool breeze. It is already low tide and you can see that the water recede very far from the beach.

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It is indeed very relaxing.

I decide to head out for dinner.

There are trikes readily available outside the resort and it cost P20 per person to go to the town. It is a short 5 mins ride.

The trike driver recommended MJ Square for a cheaper option.

MJ Square actually is a collection of restaurants. There are stalls selling shakes, beers and restaurants. There is even a cake shop. The food options here is definitely more than Malapascua.

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I settled for the biggest restaurant there and ordered the so-called Malaysia Chicken Curry.

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Obviously the food served is not Malaysian Chicken curry style. However it is spicy enough and taste quite nice.

After dinner, I just take a short walk around and there are actually many other restaurants. One of the restaurants even have a live band on Saturday.

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There are also street vendor selling the usual BBQ chicken!

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After that I took a P20 trike back to hotel.

I spend the rest of the night lying on the sun deck and watch the stars.

I have been to Philippines several times and this is the first time I can lie down on the beach and watch the stars feeling safe. Even in Boarcay Station 3, the security will advice me not to stay at the beach even the resort is at the beachfront.

Here in Bantayan, I can enjoy this without much worry. There is security guard that belongs to Anika at the beach who is monitoring the surrounding.

I am loving every minute of it.

Day 2

I woke up early but I missed the sunrise.

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Angela is actually waiting for me at the beach and once she saw me walking towards the beach, she came running towards me.

She brought her father out from the house. Since it is still low tide, Angela’s father have to push the boat nearer to the shore so I can walk less. It is very thoughtful of him. I can actually walk out since the water is very shallow.

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The boat ride to Virgin Island is less than 30 mins.

Once you reach the island, you will be led by the staff to register and pay the P500 entrance fee. The P500 actually is for 2 person but since I am alone, it does not make any difference.

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Virgin Island to me is a very commercialised island. There are huts to rent and it is decorated like a Christmas tree.

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I don’t have a good feel about the place.

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When walking along the beach, we found a fair amount of broken glasses. So please wear your shoes when walking along the beach.

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Angela keeps mentioning a place called nature park. I can’t figure out what is it and I ask her is it in Virgin Island. She just nodded her head and keep saying monkey.

When we board the boat and decide to go back to Bantayan, Angela keeps asking me whether to go to the nature park. I then asked her father where is it and pointed a direction to it.

I asked is there any entrance fee and he said P200 and the kids can enter for free.

I can see that the kids yearn to go there and I agreed.

The ride took about 10 mins.

When walking towards the beach, the sand is very soft and our feet sink deep into the sand. The trick is not to wear shoes but I am afraid of losing them.

After some struggle, we all manage to reach the beach.

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When we walk up towards the park, we are greeted by a Caucasian. I asked him what island is this and he answered it is Bantayan. I then asked whether is he the owner and he said yes.

The place we are visiting is actually Bantayan Nature Park and Resort. It is located on the Eastern part of the island and is about 25 min ride to Santa Fe town.

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We were then brought by one of the staff to pay for the entrance fee. If you would just like to walk around for sightseeing, it will be P100. If you would like to use the facilities like fish spa, swimming in the cave and swimming pool then the fee will be P200.

The park has caged animals. Mainly small ones like birds. The star animal that the kids wanted to see is the monkey named Emo.

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There is also 2 swimming pools; one for the kids and the other is adult pool. There is a fish spa also.

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There is a cave that you can swim in it during high tide.

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I later understand that this is the first time that the kids come to this park as not many visitors would like to visit this place. So the kids try to use this opportunity through me to come to visit this place.

Seeing the kids happy also made me happy.

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After this we left the island and head back to the resort.

I again took a walk along the beach and saw families processing their catch. It is a type of fish and they actually peel the fish apart and sun them!

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I also saw other workers loading good and I believe they are shipping it to other neighbouring islands.

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I walk into the village and I can see that some villagers are still rebuilding their house after Yolanda.

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At the resort, I then called a trike driver to bring me to see the sunset. I find a nice chap called Edgar (09235939556) to bring me there for P700. I bargained down to P600.

Unfortunately, his tyre is flat and could not come to fetch me. I then have to look for another driver. At the entrance of the resort, I look for another driver and manage to find a motorbike driver that is willing to bring me to see the sunset at Madridejos at P400.

The ride to Madridejos is really long. It is about 18km from Anika. The road is also bumpy and my ass really hurts.

The driver brought me to Kota Park in Madridejos. It is a small beach and park. It has a road leading to a structure.

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I just sit there and wait for the sunset. Though the sunset is not as spectacular as Boracay, but it is still nice. I just love sunset.

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Just before last light, I decide to head back to Santa Fe for dinner.

It is another long ride and some stretch of the road is really pitch dark. I look up and saw the stars in the sky. It is really beautiful.

We reach Santa Fe in about 40 mins.

I decide to eat at the same place. This time, I ordered Spicy Sizzling squid and it was delicious.

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After dinner, I again walk around the area and saw a live band performing at the Blue Bar.

When I reach back at the resort, I again just spend my time watching the stars.

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Boring isn’t it?

By the way, the cell phone signal is Bantayan is poor. I did not see any 3G signal anywhere on the island.

Wifi is provided in Anika but only on the beach area and the restaurant. There is no Wifi signal in the room.

Day 3

My last day in Bantayan and I am already missing this place.

I woke up early to try to catch the sunrise.

The sunrise is beautiful too.

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After sunrise, I again walk around the beach and saw some fisherman coming back from their work.

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I also saw some kids playing. I wanted to take some pictures and they happily pose for me.

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I then saw Angela and she is washing a basin on the beach. I walk towards her and have a chat with her. I also told her that I knew she has overcharge me on the Island hopping tour and she sheepishly admitted it and even told me how the P800 is being distributed.

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She is really a nice girl and I wish her well before we parted.

I check out early in order to catch the 1030hrs ferry.

Anika provide complimentary transfer to and from the ferry terminal if you inform them early.

The schedule for each ferry is more prominently displayed here. Use the published schedule as a guide as mentioned earlier, the departure time is usually later.

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Also mentioned earlier, there is a Ceres bus that travels all the way into Bantayan island. So there is also a ferry back to Hagnaya.

According to Anika resort staff and based on their observation, the ferry that has Ceres bus in it is 0600hrs, 1030hrs, 1430hrs and 1800hrs. Please do not use the said timing as absolute as schedule might change.

The ferry fare is P170 and you have to pay P5 for the terminal fee. When you walk towards the ferry, you will have to pay another P5 to the Port Authority.

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I took some final shots of Bantayan before the ferry departs.

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Again, the ferry leave about 25mins late and there is a Ceres aircon bus in it.

The bus is full so I cannot board mid way.

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When the ferry reach Hagnaya, there will be buses waiting. I saw two Ceres buses leaving and one of them is even an aircon bus.

As it is a Sunday, the traffic is a bit lighter and we reach the bus terminal in 3.5 hours. However our bus is driving like F1 and we even have a near miss accident in Cebu.

Once in Cebu, I start to “work”; buying stuff according to the shopping list.

I stayed in Red Planet Cebu which is formerly Tune Hotel.

The room did not change much but now they uses a dispenser for hand soap and bath foam.

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Water pressure is good and cable TV selection is good unlike Anika.

My kind friend in Cebu asked me out for dinner.

He brought me a hole in the wall near to Mango Avenue. The restaurant is called Boiling Shrimp Hauz. They mainly serve shrimp and squid in a plastic bag. They also do have side dishes like chicken.

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The rice will be put on top of a table and you are supposed to use your hand to eat. A plastic glove is provided and even an apron is provided upon request.

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The food is delicious and for a meal for 5, the bill is only P1760. This is cheap according to my country’s standard.

After dinner, my friend brought me to the latest SM Mall in Cebu; Seaside.

The mall is still quiet nice and having launch in Nov 2015, many stores are still close. The mall is really spacious and bright but a little deserted.

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After walking two rounds, we left.

I was told that there is another new mall called Robinson Galleria that I should visit.

Well, maybe another day.

Day 4

My last day in the Philippines.

I continue to “work”. I even visited Colonnade Supermarket at 0700hrs.

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Took a jeep from the hotel to SM and also visited Robinson Galleria.

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Dumaguete has a famous restaurant called Sans Rival and they have the famous Silvarna. Now they have open a branch in Robinson.

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Bohol Bee Farm has also open a branch in Robinson Galleria. Bohol Bee Farm ice cream is awesome and no matter how busy I am, I will stop over for an ice cream. Like their branch in Bohol, they sell honey related items and also other snacks.

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Hup Chan has also open a branch!

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After all my shopping, I go back to the hotel to unload my stuff.

I then took a taxi back to SM seaside to look for something but too bad I cannot find it. I found out that there are several bus services bringing visitors to SM Seaside.

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I then went for my lunch and guess where did I go?

I went back to the Boiling Shrimp Hauz! This time I ordered Cajun Shrimps with XXX spiciness!

After the food is served, the chef actually stand in a corner to see who actually the XXX spicy Shrimps. I guess he must be thinking I cannot finish the food.

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In the end, I did finish the food and the chef just smile at me. I told him that the food is awesome. However, I guess I will still stick to medium spiciness the next time!

I then went back to the hotel and start packing my stuff.

I extended my room till 1800hrs and pay 50% of the current room rate.

I leave the hotel at 1830hrs and reach the airport around 1915hrs.

Cebu airport has also undergone some renovations. The departure hall is brighter. The airport has join the domestic and departure hall together.

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You will have to pay P750 terminal fee. Immigration is fast but the International transit area still lack of restaurants and café though there is Coffee Bean.

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The chairs has been changed and the waiting area is brighter.

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Overall it is a positive improvement.

By the way, Cebu city does not have any 3G signal too. As a first tier city in the Philippines, I am surprised.

This conclude my visit to Bantayan.

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Bantayan has rise from the bottom of my list to the top 3 for Cebu. It is really an enjoyable trip though there is really nothing much to do!

Bantayan is an underrated island. If you just need a break for like 2 or 3 days, this island is suitable for you.

 

 

Taiwan – Kaohsiung, Kenting – 27th Feb ~ 1st March 2016

It has been 5 years since I last visited Taiwan.

I really miss Taiwan so much so when my wife approve my visa to go to Taiwan with my friends. I am so happy but at the same time a bit sad that we can’t travel together.

We book our tickets with Scoot and it is my first time flying with them. Scoot has been known for many delays so I pray that our trip will be smooth.

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The flight actually took off on time and we are on board a new Boeing 787. The seat pitch of the economy class is surprising good compared to other budget airlines like AirAsia and Cebu Pacific. Some flight attendants look a bit “stoned” since it is an early morning flight.

As mentioned, the plane is quite new and we are very curious about the electronic curtain mechanics.

The flight reach Kaohsiung Airport on time without any event.

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We then proceed to clear immigration and the queue is long and slow as there are only 3 counters manned.

After immigration and picking up our luggage, we exit the customs and proceed to purchase our SIM cards.

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There are at least 2 telco companies; ChungHwa Telecom and Far East Tone. We went with ChungHwa Telecom and you have 8 packages to choose from.

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You just need one ID to purchase a SIM card and the whole process should not take more than 5 mins.

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We then exit the terminal and on our right, there are a row of taxis waiting.

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Our driver Xiao Zhong (小忠)is waiting for us at the opposite of the terminal.

We have book an 8 seat car for the four of us so we can sit comfortably. The exterior of the car look dirty with a layer of dust and I was quite surprised about it. However the interior is clean and spacious. Having said this, maybe he just drop off another customer after going to some where dusty so that may explain why he does not have the time to clean up his vehicle.

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Xiao Zhong is friendly and ask us what we want to have lunch. After the flight, we are actually famished. Xiao Zhong recommended us a beef stall but some of us do not eat beef. So Xiao Zhong suggested another place.

We reach somewhere in the middle of nowhere and we saw a big restaurant that specialised in chicken.

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We ordered some food and it taste delicious. You can see that they cook the chicken in a traditional way.

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We are supposed to tear the chicken apart and we are given disposable gloves and a cloth gloves. You are supposed to wear the cloth glove first and then the disposable glove over it. The reason is they do not want you to dirty the cloth glove and also the chicken is very hot when serve.

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The other accompanying food is also nice but I have forgotten what are they called.

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The meal comes up to NT1550.

After the sumptuous meal, we make our way to 九棚沙漠.

Xiao Zhong is surprised that I know about this place as many locals do not even know about it.

This is the place that we can ride an ATV in the only desert in Taiwan. To reach there, you will need to travel on some winding mountain road. So please do not attempt to go there by yourself or even riding a scooter there.

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The rate for the ride is NT1000 for about 40mins. You can choose to drive an ATV or be driven in a jeep.

After paying the fee and signing your life away, you are good to go. Note that there are no safety helmet provided. You are to drive around the compound like 2 rounds to familiarise yourself and you are good to go. For me, I only ride half a round and I am ask to go!

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The ride started with some rough road with small stones and soon you will reach the beach. Travelling further up the beach will bring you to the desert.

As we are rookies, the guide which is actually a 12 year old boy let us try some simple terrain. It was really fun and at some point, we will be stuck in the sand and the guide will come to our rescue.

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They also stop at some spot for a photo shoot.

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As we practice more, we become more familiar and also become more daring to try some steeper slopes. Though sometimes we got stuck but we just laugh at each other.

The most fun part is the ride back. When riding along the beach, all of us accelerate to the maximum and we can feel the breeze caressing our face. It is so fun that this become one of the highlights of our trip.

After the ride, we cannot stop talking about it. Riding an ATV has always been in my bucket list and now I even ride it on a desert. One tick on the list is gone!

Our next stop is to go to a hot spring for a bath. Before that Xiao Zhong brought us to a famous bun shop, 小杜包子. We were later told that this is a famous shop in the area.

Xiao Zhong ordered some buns on our behalf but unlike the regular customers, he walk into the kitchen and grab it for us. This is just like clearing the immigration with an APEC pass!

The store has many different type of buns like some weird ones; cheese bun.

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After the bun, Xiao Zhong drive us to 恒春老街for some green bean soup.

The soup is very starchy and the serving portion is huge.

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After the soup, we took a stroll along the street and found another stall with long queue selling duck noodles.

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We then go back to the vehicle and go to our next destination; Chuhuo Special Scenic Area.

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This place is well known for fire burning from the ground. Xiao Zhong told us during his younger years, this area has more fire spots. When one walk on the ground, gas is released and burn. So when you walk around, the fire will follow you.

However this also resulted in many bush fire. Finally the government decided to cover up most of the holes and leave some holes burning for tourist sake.

It is not impressive and almost a waste of time as it is no longer magnificent.

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There are trucks in the car park selling fireworks. I suggest you not to buy it because it is illegal. If you just want to go there to “been there done that”, remember to look up to the sky; the stars are beautiful.

Our next stop is finally the hot spring in 四重溪.However the hot spring is fully book and there are no room for us. We actually expected that as it is a public holiday and many people will flock to hot spring.

We then decided to give it up and just go for dinner.

Xiao Zhong brought us to 红柴坑. The seafood here is more geared towards local and the restaurant will sell the catch of the day.

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We were told that the famous seafood here is lobster and it is locally caught. Crab is instead brought from the northern part of the country.

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We ordered some seafood and all the seafood are real fresh. I am not be an expert in seafood but my friends are and they can vouch for its freshness.

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The cost for our food is NT3500. Though the price is almost the same as our home country but we definitely cannot get the freshness like what we have there.

There are also several other seafood restaurants here so you can choose which one to go to.

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However do not come here too late as there are instances that the catch is little for the day and they are all sold out.

After dinner, we decided to head to our hotel.

We book Akau City B and B (阿猴城民宿). Before our arrival, we have already informed the minsu (民宿) that we will be arriving late.

During the holiday period, it is very difficult to get a budget room. So once we chance upon an available room, we grab it.

Check-in is fast. Once they verify with our hotel voucher and we are good to go.

The room is simple and with minimum necessities. They still provide sachet of shower gel, shampoo and even toothbrush. However there is no bath towel!

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The bed is hard and the mattress is very thin.

There is no lift in this minsu. So if you have a large luggage, then good luck to you.

There are only 4 rooms if I am not wrong. There is a water dispenser on the 3rd floor. Since this is a minsu, this means that you are living with the owner or the room is within the same building of a business.

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If the business is close, then you will not be able to go out.

After we have settle down, we quickly go for our shopping therapy. The night market is just outside the minsu and it is almost the end of the market.

So we walk northwards to the other end. The market is just like any other markets in Taiwan. Food is the main draw and since we are in a tourist spot, tourist items like t-shirts and fridge magnets will be everywhere.

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Though it is touristy but it is still a good market to go to. In the end I bought a t-shirt and a fridge magnet. I do not believe that I will even buy a fridge magnet!

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We shop till almost 2300hrs and we call it a day.

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Day 2

I woke up early around 0600hrs and decided to take a walk around the street.

The owner of the minsu is already sitting at the shop though the shop is still closed and we greeted each other.

There is a cycling event going on as the Taipei Mayor cycled for 27 hours from Keelung in the Northern Taiwan to Kenting. There are hundreds to cyclist accompanying him but all cyclist still adhere to rules by cycling by the side of the road.

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The street is quiet but some parts are not that clean after the night market has closed. Small bits of trash can still be seen on the street.

I just love walking into their convenience stores as they sometimes sell some unique stuff and food.

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Near to the minsu there are some food stalls that sells breakfast. There are some shops that offer tours and tickets so your tour can be arrange easily.

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You can rent an electric scooter in Kenting. You do not need a license to rent one but I need to remind you to exercise caution when using one. One China Chinese recently lost control over the vehicle and ride off the cliff and died. Also as it is not a licensed vehicle, you have almost no insurance protection but it is still a popular way to travel within Kenting.

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There are many hotels along the street too. From budget to expensive ones and I even found one that even has a lift!

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I saw at one hotel even organise dive trips.

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Finally the rest of them woke up and decide to have breakfast in a nearby food stall.

We ordered some local food like sandwich, burger and some local food. The bill comes up to NT370.

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We then walk the street again and we wonder why the police chose a zebra as their mascot.

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At 1000hrs, Xiao Zhong arrive at our hotel to pick us up for our tour.

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The first stop is Sail Rock (船帆石).

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This area has many hotels facing the sea and course the room rate will cost more. To get to the night market from here, the taxi fare is about NT200 one way which is quite expensive to me.

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After some photos, we then go to our next stop; Eluanbi Park (鵝鑾鼻).

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This is considered my highlight of my second day trip. Remember the fridge magnet that I bought in the night market, it is actually a picture of Eluanbi Park lighthouse.

You have to pay an entrance fee of NT60 which I find it reasonable. You will need to walk about 7 mins to the lighthouse.

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The lighthouse is located in a hill within a large grass land.

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The park also has a viewing deck which you can view the Bashi Channel.

You will need to do a lot of walking in the park but the view is worth it.

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After the park, we go to the next destination which is the southern tip of Taiwan. There are no entrance fee to this attraction but you will have to walk at least 500m to the landmark which is basically a block of concrete.

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If you ask me is it worth going to this place, I would say no. If you want to “been there done that” then just go there once.

Next stop is Longpan Park(龙盘公园).

This place is really nice as it is facing the Pacific Ocean. The wind is strong and the view is awesome.

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Lunch is next on our agenda. We told Xiao Zhong we went to eat some local delights.

Xiao Zhong brought us back to one of the food store in Heng Chun. This place is usually only frequented by locals.

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We are recommended some dishes and they were all delicious especially the mutton.

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I also have a cup of cider and most of us sleep all the way back to Kaohsiung after drinking it.

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We reach Kaohsiung around 1600hrs and we bid farewell to Xiao Zhong who has been a wonderful guide.

Xiao Zhong is a fantastic guide. He does not talk a lot but he knows the way around. He always bring us to places where locals go which we really like it a lot. He do give some brief description about the place and also the do’s and don’ts in each area.

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He may not go to the attraction with you but I will take it as he does not want us to be followed and has has seen all the attractions almost everyday in his work.

I will recommend Xiao Zhong and he also do tours all around Taiwan.

Check-in into the Kindness Hotel is fast after verifying our hotel voucher.

This hotel really surprises us.

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There are free snacks in the hotel restaurant between 1700hrs and 2300hrs. The snacks includes buns, ice cream, coffee, tea, juices etc.

We book a 4 person room. Though the room is not considered big but it is very well equipped. It has toiletries, different shampoo and shower foam for male and female.

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Tissues, cups and even dental floss are provided.

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I counted at least 8 power points for you to charge your gadgets.

They also have a list of items that you can borrow from the hotel.

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The hotel also provide free bicycles for you. It has also 4 washing machines and dryers and laundry bags and washing powder are also provided.

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Staff is really friendly but the hotel do not have a tour desk. So they cannot arrange any tour for you as this is a business hotel.

The room door of the hotel is a little strange. Each room has two doors. The main door room will lock automatically once you closed it and I wonder what is the use of the outer door.

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The room power can only be turn on if you slot the card into the outlet in the room. The strange thing is that it has two cards; one card is attached with the keys and the other card is removable.

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So what we do is that if we need the aircon or power to be turn on while we are away, we detach both cards and put the card without the key into the slot while the card with the key is pass to the reception for safe keeping. This is especially useful if you need to charge your gadget while you are away.

They also provide computers for you to at the restaurant and reception.

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After we settled down, we decided to go to the restaurant to have some snacks.

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As mentioned, the variety of snacks offered though is little but to me this is a very generous gesture. We ate the bun, herbal egg and dumplings.

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It is almost having a dinner there. There are ice cream, hot drinks and cold drinks.

After having our fill, we took a 7min walk to Kaohsiung MRT station. The weather start to turn cold but it is a welcome to us as we are from the tropics.

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The station has a simple guide to let you know which station to go to for some of the attractions. I find this very useful and they done this in a very nice and professional way.

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We took the train to Kaohsiung Arena and then walk to Ruifeng Night Market which is about 500m away. It is really crowded but there are signs to point you to the right direction.

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Ruifeng market is considered the best market in Kaohsiung city. It is more frequented by the locals and the price is not as inflated as Liuhe Market.

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As a typical market, it sells food and general merchandise. The market is not very big actually and it is very compact.

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They even sell clothes for dogs!

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We stayed for about 2 hours and leave.

We walk around the market in search for food but could not find anything suitable. So we decide to return to Kaohsiung Train Station to look for food.

I ordered Pork Chop rice and it actually taste quite good.

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After the meal, we walk back to our hotel and call it a day.

Day 3

We have breakfast in the hotel and the spread is good enough for me. It has rice, noodles, porridge, bread, soup, bun etc. It is more than I could ask for.

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After our breakfast, I take a look at the hotel surroundings. Since it is daylight, I have a better view.

There are actually hostel and hotels just beside Kindness hotel. In the opposite, there are shops selling breakfast, drinks, comic bookshop and several fast food down the road towards the train station.

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There is also a convenience store just a few shops down. I would say that this hotel location is good.

We took a train to Sizihwan station.

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We then exit from Exit 1 and take a 15 mins walk to Gushan Ferry terminal. Even before you exit the station, there is a shop that offer rental of bicycle and electric scooter that can be transported with the ferry.

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The queue for the ferry to Cijin Island (旗津島) is different from passenger and passenger with transport. The fare is NT25 per person and you have to pay extra if you have a transport with you (bicycle, scooter etc.).

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You do not need to buy a ticket. Just deposit the money into the box just before you board the ferry.

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The ferry is just a 10mins ride and even before your butt can warm the seat.

As it is a public holiday, the island is quite crowded.

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We decided to rent a transport and we decided on a quad bicycle. When you rent the transport, the staff will advice you on which route to take.

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Our first stop is the light house. All vehicles must park at the foot of the hill and walk up the slope.

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The walk is a little tiring and the weather is getting hot.

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Even the dog at the gate seems to be suffering from the heat.

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The Kaohsiung Lighthouse is facing the Kaohsiung port. You can have a good view of the port and also the city.

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The trees are also prune into shapes.

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After visiting the lighthouse, we walk down the same slope and walk up the slope at the opposite direction to the fort.

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The fort is pretty huge. The authorities should put some replica cannons into the fort to make it more interesting. It should also put up sign to explain the function of each room.

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After the fort, we proceed to the beach.

The sand is a little dark. I overheard someone saying it is due to the volcanic reaction but I don’t remember any volcano in the area.

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We took some pictures and left.

The next stop is the Windmill Park. It is located at one end of the island and it is pretty far from the beach.

Halfway to the park, we noticed we have run out of time decide to turn back but due to the traffic, we cannot make a U-turn.

We then decide to just go ahead and by the time we reach the park, we decided just to take a few pictures without getting down from the vehicle.

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Along the way to the Windmill Park, we have lost count the number of temples we have passed by.

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We then make a U-turn at the traffic light and rush our way back.

The vehicle is really slow and maybe we are quite heavy. So I suggest you rent a electric scooter instead.

We took a short cut and barely make it for the 2 hour mark.

After returning the bike, we proceed for lunch.

We pass by a row of trishaw which is usually peddled by old folks. Seeing them, I can’t help but pity them but they still need to make a living.

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Just beside the bike shop, the road if filled with food stalls and also seafood restaurants. Cijin Island is well known for its seafood and we are recommended to give it a try.

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Even before we settle down for lunch, we decide to try the smelly toufu and something like green tomatoes. I do not dare to try it and my friends feedback that the toufu is quite tasty actually though it might be smelly. However you must eat the toufu while it is hot.

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There are several seafood restaurants along the street and just pick what you want. The price is almost identical. You just need to pick from what is available and they will cook it.

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You will have to go and scoop the rice yourself.

The food is tasty and fresh. The lunch cost us NT1580.

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After lunch we decide to head back to the main island. The queue is very long and we are in the ferry in 20mins. Since there is no vehicles on board, we decide to just stand at the lower deck.

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Back to the MRT station, we next head to KaiXuan (凯旋) MRT.

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When we exit the station, we are approached by a taxi driver that offer to bring us to Dream Mall for NT80. I was a little skeptical as the driver mentioned the fare for going to the mall is between NT85 and NT95.

However we are tired so we decide to just ride it.

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The mall is about 1km away and we are at the entrance of the mall in 5 mins.

Dream Mall is a high end mall to me. Everything is branded and well, expensive. Nothing seems to interest us there and we decide to just chill out in one of the café.

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At the basement of the mall, there is a large variety of food and café to offer you from Pizza to finger food.

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We settled down Perfume Dance Café. Each of us ordered a drink and we have a waffle to be shared by everybody. There is a time limit of 90min if there are customers waiting.

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After we have rested enough, we pay the bill of NT1012.

We decide to head back to the MRT station and again took a metered cab. The fare came up to be NT84! So the taxi driver is not lying. I would recommend you to take the taxi as it is quite a long walk. Though there is a shuttle service but there is usually a long queue for it.

We saw a sign that point us to Kaixuan Night Market and we decide to visit it. The walk to the night market is about 20mins but since it is already the evening, the weather start to cool.

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Just before we reach the market, we saw a train station; Kaixuan Ruitian station. This seems to be a new station and construction is also different from a typical metro station. It travel on the road and only 4 stations is in operation now. I suspect that it is a light rail system.

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You can only use a store value card to pay for your fare and we see an armed officer standing in the train.

We then proceed to the market but as we are still early, most of the stalls are still close. We just loiter around for 10mins and decide to make a move back to the train station.

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We intend to go for a foot massage but we decide to head back to the hotel first. Along the way, we visited the souvenir shop in the TRA station selling TRA very own souvenirs. I bought some key chains and they are really nice.

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Our original intention is just to wash up and quickly leave for the massage. However our stomach have other thoughts and we ended up eating at the hotel restaurant. Hahahaha!!!

We then decide to walk to Formosa Boulevard Station instead of taking a train there. This is good for us to burn some calories.

We also seize the opportunity to see the most beautiful train station in Kaohsiung.

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Using Google Earth, we search for massage shops around the station and found one. It is a Thai massage but to me it is just a usual Taiwanese massage.

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We opted for a 2 hour massage at NT1200.

The massage is exactly what I have experienced 4 years ago in Taipei. The masseur really rub into your nerves and muscles. I was almost in tears and I requested the masseur a few times to be more gentle.

I must salute the masseur for their dedication and hard work.

After the massage, it is already 2230hrs.

We then walk to Liu He Night market. As it is already late, them market is quite empty.

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We happen to see a Japanese style pharmacy shop where it is like Watsons.

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We do not fancy the food in the market and we just decide to ride a taxi to the McDonald’s opposite Kaohsiung Train Station.

The taxi driver that drove us is very comical and when we told them we seems to be disorientate and he laugh at us saying that there is no way one can get lost in Kaohsiung as it is like a square box.

We reach McDonald’s in 5 mins. We wolf down all our food like some hungry pigs. This is the first time I have tried a pork burger and it is not as bad as I thought. As a matter of fact, it is quite delicious.

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After the meal, we finally walk back to our hotel satisfied.

Day 4

Our last day in Kaohsiung.

The night before, we contacted a taxi driver to bring us around the outskirt of Kaohsiung.

We managed to contact Joy and he is able to make it.

After having our breakfast, we check out of the hotel and Joy is already waiting for us outside the hotel.

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We have told Joy explicitly which are the must see attractions for us.

Our first stop is the area around 柴山 to see the monkeys. The monkeys here are very smart. If you have nothing to offer them, they will not come to you. Joy waved some packet drinks to them and they start swarming to us! We just stayed in the vehicle and look at them.

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Next is The Martyr Shrine.

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Joy then drive us to eat (yes, we are going to eat again!) some snacks. The “bread” is stuff with vegetables and it is quite nice.

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After our “feeding” time, we proceed to Zuoying Lotus Pond.

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This place reminds me of our Haw Par Villa. If you climb the pagoda, you will have a good view of the surrounding.

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And guess where is our next destination? Yup, you got it right. We eat again.

This time Joy bring us to eat pig blood. This is not my taste so I just look see only.

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Our next stop is the highlight of today’s day tip; Fo Guang Shan (佛光山).

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This is a Buddhist temple and it is very majestic. Upon passing through the front building, you will see a big Buddha statue flank by 2 rows of pagoda.

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In the first building, it is like a shopping centre with restaurants and even Starbucks.

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There are also 3D and 4D short film about some stories on Buddhism.

There are also performance within the compound at designated time.

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We never expect to stay in the temple for so long and we only visited part of the compound. I would suggest to stay there for the whole day if you are interested.

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There are bus service between the temple and Zuoying Station. It leave about an hour interval and it cost NT70 one way.

Our next stop is a suspension bridge in Pingtung. It should be also another highlight of today’s trip but unfortunately it is under maintenance due to the recent earthquake.

We were told that the bridge will be light up at night and it is beautiful.

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So since we cannot cross the bridge, we just snap a few pictures and left.

We are suppose to reach the airport around 1800hrs so we ask Joy to bring us somewhere to buy some local food or snacks to bring back.

Joy then brought us to a local supermarket call 全联福利中心. We spend about 30mins and quickly leave for our next stop.

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We ask Joy to bring us to eat before bringing us to the airport. I think Joy is also unfamiliar with the airport surrounding food stores so we just get him to stop some where and we just find food.

We ordered noodles (not your usual type of string noodles) and the portion is huge.

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We eat quickly and then rush to the airport.

We bid Joy farewell and he is surprised about the extra money that we have given him. It is not really a tip but along the way, he brought us food and fruits to eat. For example, the pig blood meal and the snacks are paid by him. He brought us some pineapple for us and did not ask a single cent from us.

Therefore it is right for us to pay him back though we do not know how much is it.

I will recommend Joy to anyone who wish to get a car and driver in Kaohsiung.

Kaohsiung airport is not big but it is quite nice. It is spacious and well maintained.

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This conclude our tour in Kaohsiung and I would say I enjoy it very much. The people are still so friendly and I really hope to come back again with my family.

See ya!